Thomas Hardy Biography | Poet
Thomas Hardy was a British poet and novelist who became one of the leading literary figures of his time. He was born on June 2, 1840 in Higher Bockhampton, a small village in the English county of Dorset. Although Hardy became famous as a best selling novelist, he always considered himself to be primarily a poet. At the time of his death in Dorchester on January 11, 1928, he had published more than 800 poems.
During his childhood Thomas Hardy became steeped in the local culture. He learned traditional folk songs and stories that had been passed down through generations. He developed a close knowledge of the local landscape and a love for nature. His parents wanted him to have a good education, but in many subjects Hardy was self taught. He learned Latin and modern languages while attending a local school.
When he reached the age of 16, Thomas Hardy was apprenticed to a local architect. He also made friends with a young socialist, Horace Moule, who helped him to learn ancient Greek. Hardy grew to admire the poet Shelley, whose work he considered to be genuine in its support for the poor and oppressed.
Hardy began to write poetry in 1862 when he went to London to continue his architectural studies at Kings College. He later obtained a job in an architectural practice in London, but he continued his arts education in his spare time by attending many plays, operas and museums.
Hardy decided he wanted to be a novelist and he put an end to his architectural career when he returned to Dorset. He had met and fallen in love with Emma Gifford and they were married in 1870.
After several successful novels, Hardy’s first poetry book, Wessex Poems, was published in 1898 and was followed ten years later by The Dynasts, a three part epic drama in verse.
Another notable book, Poems of 1912-13, featured poetry written by Hardy following the death of his wife in 1912. When he wrote these poems he was suffering from remorse about his relationship with Emma during their marriage and was full of regrets for failing to appreciate her while she was alive.
Hardy became a full-time poet after he had married again in 1914. He decided to stop writing fiction because his later novels were criticized for the immorality of some of his characters and for what was considered to be some shocking content.
Much of Hardy’s poetry was inspired by his love for the Dorset countryside and his appreciation of nature. He also wrote many poems based on his personal knowledge of local traditions and the rural characters from his past.
Hardy wrote all of his later poems in his Dorchester home, which he had designed himself. He wrote the majority from 1917 onwards and produced a number of well-received volumes of in his later years. He wrote some of his best poems when he was well into his eighties.
As a famous man of letters, Thomas Hardy corresponded with several other great names in English literature, including H. G. Wells, E. M. Forster and Virginia Woof.
Hardy was awarded the Order of Merit and after his death he was given a memorial in Poets Corner, where some of the greatest English writers are buried inside Westminster Abbey. Only his heart was returned to Dorset for burial.
A Short Story (1865), Desperate Remedies (1871), Under the Greenwood Tree (1872), A Pair of Blue Eyes(1872-73), Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), Hand of Ethelberta (1876), Return of the Native (1878), The Trumpet Major (1879), A Laodicean (1870-71), Two on a Tower (1882), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1884-85), The Woodlanders (1886-87), Wessex Tales (1888), A Group of Noble Dames (1891),Tess of the D'Urberville's (1891), Life's Little Ironies (1894), Jude, the Obscure (1895), The Well-Beloved (1897), Wessex Poems (1898), Poems of the Past and the Present (1901), The Dynasts (drama), part i. (1904), and part ii. (1906), Time's Laughing Stocks (1909).
Thomas Hardy: Poems
| Best Poems
| Short Poems